Debora Robertson’s updated Sunday lunch: whole roast sea bass recipe

This zingy, herby dish looks wonderful when it’s brought to the table

A lot of people are intimidated by cooking fish, but it’s the first thing they order when they go to a restaurant. It’s understandable. It isn’t cheap, and you can overcook it easily and it usually needs to be cooked at the last minute. But cooking a whole fish takes away those pressures and it looks really wonderful when you bring it out to the table. If you have a crowd, you can easily do two trays – You can also do all the prep a couple of hours in advance and just start cooking about 45 minutes before you want to eat. The fish has a better flavour when it’s cooked on the bone too.

Serves 4-6, depending on what else you are serving
extra virgin olive oil 80ml, plus a little more to finish – use your good oil
lemon 2 strips of zest, about 6cm, carefully pared from an unwaxed lemon with a sharp vegetable peeler, making sure you don’t remove any bitter white pith
fennel seeds 1 tsp, lightly crushed
waxy potatoes 1kg, such as anya or charlotte
fennel 1 small bulb, about 350-400g
fresh lemon thyme a small bunch, about 6-7 sprigs
torpedo shallots 2, about 140g, halved and thinly sliced
fresh tarragon 5 sprigs
bay leaves 4
unwaxed lemons juice of 2
salt and freshly ground black pepper
sea bream or sea bass
1 large, about 1kg, scaled and gutted – get the fishmonger to do this for you
lemon wedges to serve

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